Sweet Submission – Submitting my first poems

I found myself at 29 with a suitcase full of sketches.

Other than in high school, I had never submitted any writing (poems, fiction, nonfiction, etc) for publication or a contest or any kind of review until just last month.  Last month, however, I went through a serious process of clearing out the years of “backlog,” which can be a daunting task for any first-time submitter.

Like many aspiring writers, I had accumulated lots of paper over the years.  Beyond the reams of fragmented ideas and sketches, my writing was primarily poetry.  I’d written a collection during my lunch hours in 2006 that I gave to my parents for Christmas.  I had many others that I’d written for friends or girlfriends or just myself.  Some were jokes, some were “serious” (which makes them a bit funnier than the jokes, in hindsight).  Some were first drafts, while (a very few) others had been through dozens of revisions.

So I had been writing, but all of these poems (and a few short stories) had received an audience of 0 to 4 people.  After I sent the poem to its intended recipient,  the poems sat on my hard drive or in an old cardboard box that moved from apartment to apartment with me like a musty albatross.

And there they sat like stones.  Nothing was growing from them, there was no movement.

I suppose I was waiting for some sort of divine intervention.  A benevolent virus to infect my computer and spam my poems to a bunch of reputable journals.  Or a friend would suddenly turn all “Brewster’s Millions” and decide to publish my entire compendium in gold-leaf collector’s editions.

Of course, that never happened.  During my most recent move, I was depressed to see poems that I had been proud of in 2003 that had sat undisturbed for almost a decade.  They were still no closer to publication and the personal satisfaction I had derived in writing them was calcifying beside them.

So last month I decided to clear out the relics and submit everything I considered a good, decent, or at least complete poem.  Having taken stock of my writing to date and sent off with all the poems I was proud, I feel an impetus to press forward without the illusory safety net of “completed” work held in reserve.

It’s a good feeling and a first step I’d recommend to any other long-term aspirants.

Next time, I’ll try to give some advice on preparing and submitting your first work, for late bloomers like me.

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